Tag Archives: Kid Smpl


In a recent interview with RBMA’s Lauren Martin, former Vex’d member and Knives boss Kuedo discussed futurism and its roll in electronic music: “I don’t believe it’s the essential job of music that calls itself “futuristic” to literally attempt to reach into a future and bring us back a piece of it early.” In a genre where the vast majority of releases are proposed in the context of a relentless push forward, the future is a near-constant trope, brought up and considered in an infinite array of subtle and not so subtle ways. As Kuedo notes though, futurism does not have to envisage an or preview what the future holds and more-often-than-not, it’s a far more apt tool for understanding and contextualizing the personal and the present. Which brings us to Kid Smpl, the San Francisco-based artist who will be releasing his second full length, Privacy, through Kastle’s Symbols label on November 11.

Never one to sit on his laurels, Privacy comes on the heels of a mixfile release on Smpl’s own Display label, a collection of hardcore techno experiments, and a smattering of radio and remix work. From his first releases on Seattle’s Hush Hush Recordings, Kid Smpl’s music has balanced an ardent futurism with an innate sense of the present and Privacy is the fullest realization of that project to date, an album that deals with day-to-day digital life, in all its complex inconsistencies and contradictions, through searing surround sound epics. The sonic tropes from previous works are all there, especially the strangled vocals, but like his recent “Promise Emulation” mixfile, they’re rendered on a larger scale, We’ve got LP standout “Riven” on premiere today and it’s a prime example of Privacy‘s expansive scope and present-day futurism, a futurism that attempts to represent the grotesque nature of the present far more than any predictive stab at what is to come. Pre-order Privacy here and check out a full track list for the album after the jump.

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Inaugurated at the beginning of August with Eaves‘ Mauled Heretic, Kid Smpl’s DISPLAY label/series is a new endeavor intended to “showcase longform single-track musical explorations.” If you’re familiar with operations like Disc Magazine, Novembre Magazine, aqnb or JG Biberkopf’s Unthinkable show on NTS, this format will likely be familiar to you, somewhat based in the ambient tradition of extended songs but with far more of a concise narrative bent. July’s MAMI X NON compilation, featuring short mixes from Nkisi, Marcelline, Asmara and more, is another example of the shorter format, this time blurring the lines between original/mix formats in a way that allows for a collagist underpinning and a runway soundtrack overtone.

Despite the mix-cum-collage format becoming increasingly popular, DISPLAY has been established to feature solely original works and the second entry into the series, Promise Emulation, comes from Kid Smpl himself. An expansive synthesis of the hi-stress style style found on the producer’s releases for Symbols, the piece aims to “explore a succession of decrepit futurist locales,” a dystopian purview that the producer, recent relocated to San Francisco, manages without the heavy handed posturing and cloying sci fi motifs of so many of his contemporaries. Largely beat-less, Promise Emulation is a largely textural affair, briefly breaking out into trance-like crescendos and bursts of raw noise, but by-and-large retaining more restrained exterior that recalls Ben Frost at his most subtle. Promise Emulation is out now in full and available as a free download.

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Over the past few years, Kid Smpl has asserted himself at the emotive fringe of contemporary club music with two EP releases on Symbols functioning as individual mission statements. Now, the Precinct and Response/Ascend EPs are getting the remix treatment with Utah?, Eaves, y y y and Astral Plane Recordings releasee SHALT providing revamped versions of Smpl’s originals tracks. We’ve got SHALT’s take on Precinct highlight “Barrier” on premiere today, a larger-than-life effort that shows off the Lausanne-based artist’s penchant for grittily beatific synth work and crunchy, overdriven drums. It’s exactly the sort of hi-tech physicality we’ve come to expect from both SHALT and Kid Smpl, two artists who are leading a trend towards more abstract, non-linear club forms and don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. Stream SHALT’s remix below and hit the jump to preview snippets of the full remix volume, which is out March 25.

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It’s a stacked post-Thanksgiving weekend here in Los Angeles and it closes out on Sunday with Response, a new night at The LASH that’s bringing out Seattle’s Kid  Smpl and New York’s Eaves for the first gig. We’ve been huge fans of Smpl for a while and the Hush Hush/Symbols rep contributed our latest Astral Plane mix, a visceral journey through noise-y club tropes, Future and plenty of originals from his latest Response/Ascend EP (out now on Symbols). The bill is filled out by Princee and DJ Vrizon Wirlss and is going down at The LASH, home of our monthly Clubfriends night. It’s $10, but we’ve got a pair of tickets to give away to one lucky winner. All you have to do is enter your favorite track from Response/Ascend and you’re entered. RSVP for Response here and hope to see you all out there.


The electronic music community has always been interested in the sublime, both theoretically and literally, through psychoactive substances and transcendent experiences. If the sublime is reached amid a torrent of drum machines, then all the better. Over the past few years, a widely dispersed set of producers have seemed to approach the question of the sublime from a different angle, matching noisy sonics and hybrid sensibilities with moments of brief elation, moments that often become larger than the songs, albums and mixers that hold them. It’s an aesthetic found on Lotic’s recent Agitations mix and Rabit’s Communion EP, on most efforts released on Mr. Mitch’s Gobstopper label, and on Acre’s debut Better Strangers LP.

Seattle’s Kid Smpl has never sat comfortably in any one mold, advancing from the “night bus” inspired UK sounds of his early releases on Hush Hush Records to a current sound that touches on everything from digital dancehall, jungle and the hyperreal stylings of FKA Twigs, Kelela and Le1f. Often times, those influences only seem to flit in and out of a song momentarily, the remainder filled by wide-eyed cinematics, often accompanied by the sounds of worlds tearing apart. Smpl’s music has always been imbued with a sense of the dramatic and while his aesthetic has slowly become more outward-focused, there’s still a distinctly personal focus in his releases, whether his reference points be Emptyset or Alkaline. His Astral Plane mix touches on both influences and contemporaries, the whole coming off as remarkably consistent with his original work despite including everything from Letta’s remembrance anthem “Where I Left You” to Lee Bannon alias DedekindCut’s crushing breakcore. Be sure to get Smpl’s Response/Ascend EP, out now on Symbols, and always look out for more from this loft-minded Northwester.

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With several EPs and a must listen debut LP out on Seattle’s Hush Hush Recordings imprint, Kid Smpl has established a singular sound based on snippets of garage,dubstep and jungle. Over time, the Seattle-based producer’s sound has grown from a whisper (Collapse) to a roar (Silo Tear), gaining confidence and a definitive spirit along the way. The next step for Kid Smpl is an EP on Los Angeles imprint Symbols, a label that has largely peddled releases from the post-dubstep swamp, but appears to be stepping out into more adventurous territories. “Loss Parameter” will appear on the Precinct EP, a torrid run through the aforementioned genres that seems to draw lines between the beatific R&B meanderings of Holy Other and the horror-inducing sounds of Demdike Stare. Precinct will be released through Symbols on February 10 and can be previewed here.


For the next two weeks, we will be featuring different facets of Seattle’s crown jewel of an electronic music event, the consistently excellent Decibel Festival. Considering that Seattle is our hometown and Decibel is one of the most tactful curators of electronic music in the United States, the annual gathering is one of the highlights of our year and more than deserves the praise heaped on it in recent years. The festival runs on a showcase structure, featuring different labels, promotion groups and other tastemakers flexing their creative muscle at Seattle’s best venues. Over the past 11 years, Decibel has grown from a small neighborhood gathering to one of the premiere dance music festivals in the world and over the next few weeks, we’ll parse through the dozens of events to highlight the best and brightest talent the festival has to offer.

Over the past week of Decibel Festival coverage, we’ve pointed our cursors at two showcases, Kinesthesia (Arca + Jesse Kanda, Max Cooper, Total Freedom) and Modern Love (Andy Stott, Millie & Andrea, Demdike Stare), that stopping through Seattle in the midst of truly global tours that will hit dozens of other cities before 2014 lets out. And while Decibel’s growth has allowed the inclusion of highly touted live acts like the aforementioned Cooper and Stott, its roots are still firmly planted in the lush Pacific Northwest and a heartening number of the festival’s key acts hail from Seattle, Portland and the surrounding region. Natasha Kmeto, DJAO, J. Alvarez, The Sight Below and many more local artists will be displaying their numerous talents across a number of showcases, but the single, most condensed collection of local talent at Decibel comes in the form of the Hush Hush Records showcase. Still a relatively young outlet, the discography of Alex Ruder’s label reads like a storyboard of against-the-grain beatwerk, from the fabric (and heart) tearing UK-derived work of Kid Smpl to the richly textured guitar + voice compositions of Cock & Swan.

Hush Hush will be bringing the core of its roster to Decibel and the showcase, taking place on September 26 (Friday) at EMP’s JBL Theater, will feature live performances from Kid Smpl, Hanssen, Slow Year, and Cock & Swan. And while the label ostensibly started as an outlet for the sort of “night bus” sounds intended to soundtrack long, lunar rides on public transportation, this bill has more than enough propulsion to bring any listener out of their doldrums. For a taste a what’s to come next Friday, Hush Hush core man Hanssen was kind enough to contribute a mini mix of key and upcoming label material, all influenced by gauzy hip hop, found sound collage art and rich R&B dynamics. The Hush Hush showcase will not feature the biggest names or stage productions at Decibel, but you won’t find a better representation of the festival’s DIY spirit, inclusive ethos and overall quality control.

If our insistence on attending showcases at EMP seems odd, it’s only because the venue will play host to many of Decibel’s most dynamic performances, dancefloor oriented and not. On any one night, you could witness the hellish choral work of Oneohtrix Point Never, the brilliant harmonics of Cock & Swan and the West African-derived percussive workouts of Millie & Andrea in Seattle’s usual home of rock & roll kitsch. Get single tickets to the Hush Hush showcase here.

The blossoming Hush Hush Records reached a milestone yesterday with the release of their first label compilation. Hush Hush: Presents, Vol. 1 features 28 tracks from 28 old, new, and future Hush Hush artists/friends each sharing their own take on the night bus sound. Focusing on feeling rather than constrictions of definition, night bus is an aesthetic, an encounter, a collapse. Astral Plane favorites Chants, Cock & Swan, and tinyforest give instance to this divergence of process with their additions as well as newcomers Yakamoto Kotzuga and Keenya‘s tracks “After Midnight” and “Lost in Corners”.

With the recent release of Redbull Music Academy graduee Kid Smpl’s Silo Tear EP (sounds like driving down a highway in the dark and seeing streetlight after streetlight ghost by you) and the teaser-like nature of Vol. 1, it is easy to imagine that the cement laid by Hush Hush founder, Alex Ruder, has begun to set. Name-your-price download of Hush Hush: Presents, Vol 1. is available on bandcamp here.

rbma various asets - not for sale

This Summer, 62 musicians gathered in New York City to make music, attend workshops, share secrets and perform live. Those 62 comprised the 2013 Red Bull Music Academy class, an impressive array of producers, vocalists and instrumentalists from every corner of the electronic music world. Today, we’re lucky enough to receive (part) of what they came up with this past Summer. Various Assets – Not For Sale features collaborative tracks from Astral Plane favorites Sinjin Hawke, Kid Smpl, DJ Slow, Throwing Snow, Distal, Thundercat (under his birth name), Benjamin Damage and more. A compilation can only go so far to document a Summer’s worth of collaborative work, but Various Assets does an admirable job at giving plebes like myself some insight into the wonderful process that is the annual RBMA gathering. Stream Kid Smpl, SHDBOX, Branko and AnnaLove’s “Forces In The Way” and hit the jump (or head to Bandcamp) to listen/download the entire compilation

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kid smpl

When we receive a remix of a song that we don’t initially recognize, our first move is generally to pull up the original for compare and contrast purposes. This is a fruitful process that shines light on the remixer’s creative process and often introduces us to new artists. Unfortunately, this was not the case when we visited with Laura Welsh and her unravelling talent. Luckily, we have Joey Butler aka Kid Simple to right the wrong and solve the mystery of exactly who OK’d the original. All hate aside, it’s difficult to imagine getting sick of the Smpl treatment. Butler’s work is just so voluminous and engrossing. It’s virtually impossible to avoid getting wrapped up in the warm, yet distant blanket that is a Kid Smpl track and, really, why would you ever want to.